The Trials and Tribulations of Working From Home

Jennifer Frank, MD


October 13, 2021

In my hybrid role (part-time clinical, part-time administrative), I have the luxury of working from home part of the week, if I choose. Recently, a friend asked about where I work, assuming that I must certainly take advantage of the ability to work from home. With COVID upending work norms, it has been quite an experience to replace days of in-person meetings with Zoom meetings instead, which can be taken from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. Initially, I found the idea of working from home appealing, but I quickly realized that I happen to be the type of person that works best at, well, work.

In my pursuit of work-life balance, which is hard for any physician to obtain since the professional model is predicated on 24/7 availability and being on call most or all of your career, I actively resisted allowing work to encroach on my time at home with my family. It was increasingly hard to do so the more connected I became to my inbox and the electronic health record, but it is a worthy endeavor. This desire to separate work and home leads me to stay later at the office to finish charts or emails rather than plugging in at home. The ability to bring work to my home during business hours introduced a new wrinkle in the work-life balance challenge.

This is what I've found in working from home: First, I work just as hard as when I am in the office. A schedule full of Zoom meetings anchors me as tightly to my dining room table as it does to my office desk. I find it equally challenging to let tasks go undone at the end of the day, even when my day ends in my living room. Second, I mentally like the idea of arriving at work and starting my day. I have my routines both in the clinic and in the corporate office. These routines are familiar and comforting and are difficult to recreate at home.

Surprisingly, working from home has made me somewhat self-conscious. My kids already tease me about my "doctor voice" and will comment about what they hear from my end of the conversation. Recently, after a charged meeting with a group of physicians, my teenagers teased me afterward, having overheard my end of the professional, yet firm, conversation.

I'm also more conscious of internet hiccups and the grandfather clock loudly bonging when I'm trying to make an important point. Once, I was hosting a call in the room over my garage when my son started his car below. The Bluetooth switched from my AirPods to his car, and apparently the sounds of the car starting and the garage door opening made it sound like I had fallen down the stairs. Another time, while on a call with my boss, my AirPods connected to my husband's phone while he was calling the school attendance office for my son. Yikes.

As I explained to my inquiring friend, I prefer working from work. For me, at least, it helps me to stay focused both at work and at home.

Do you enjoy working from home or do you work better at work? Comment below.

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About Dr Jennifer Frank
Jennifer Frank has the unbelievable privilege of being a family physician, physician leader, wife, and mother in Northeast Wisconsin. When it comes to balancing work and life, she is her own worst enemy because she loves to be busy and enjoys many different things. In her spare time (ha!), she enjoys reading suspense and murder mysteries as well as books on leadership and self-improvement. She also writes her own murder mysteries and loves being outdoors.
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